MIDI Designer users and DJ duo GrooveBoston realizes that live electronic music is “less about how it’s created and more about how it’s consumed,” and it’s great to see them using the iPad in their shows! Here’s an interview with the two DJs on what they like about MIDI Designer and how they’re putting the fantastic MIDI controller app to use…
Tell us a little bit about you and your music!
Our goal for each show is to build a dramatic new reality for people, and where the music is at the absolute center of that experience. As DJs, we’re in a very cool position. We get to build the most dynamic, impactful set possible by combining the right parts of the right remixes of the right tracks from all over the world. In today’s fast-paced culture, people want adventure and variety, and a well-crafted, hard-hitting EDM set is a great way to deliver. We do a lot of prep work on each set, paying close attention to the broad flow of the night, and how different segments will lead into one another. Then we react to the audience during the performance, to make adjustments to this baseline as we go. The result is a deliberate, reactive, and AWESOME music experience. This year, our theme is VITALITY, and it’s all about channeling this dramatic energy (which we sharpened on last year’s VISCERAL Tour), in a positive way.
We are certainly MD fans. While the obvious differentiator is cost, if you have the time to play with MD you can yield some pretty powerful results. While the ability to manipulate Ableton with LiveControl 2 on Lemur looks pretty cool, we work out our custom edits and bootlegs ahead of time, so the need to manipulate Live isn’t really there. As far as aesthetics go, Lemur is way sexier, but since it’s mostly just us looking at the screens the whole time we’re not sacrificing too much.
Do you like the feel of using an iPad as a MIDI controller, do you see a future in touch screen MIDI controllers/instruments?
It depends on what function you’re triggering. For rhythmic, time-sensitive “button smashes,” we do love the feel of a rubber drum pad, as it feels like it was BORN to accommodate that sort of impact. For everything else, versatility is key, and the iPad has been extremely handy. The future of “glass cockpit” style music interfaces is bright and awesome — no question.
Tell us a little bit about your live set up – what role does MIDI designer play?
We’re running Scratch Live powered by a Mac Mini with an SL4, 4x CDJ200s, a DJM 900 Nexus mixer. We use Akai MPD18s for triggering cues and loop rolls (because we smash those the most often) and have an RMX1000 as an added FX unit. As if that wasn’t enough, we decided last year to incorporate two iPads with duplicated layouts in MD. We like to jump and run around a lot while DJing so it’s really nice that everything works the same on both sides of our “battlestation.” The iPads basically handle all the functionality of the sampler feature in Serato. It’s super convenient to have full control over a feature in Serato that typically takes up a ton of screen real estate moved onto its own space on the iPad. In addition to that, we duplicated all the cue point and loops in MD so we can run around the stage and still have access to our mix. This also allows us to DJ off stage, giving us an entirely new realm of how we can play with people’s expectations.
MIDI Designer gives us the control we need, and the style we love. It has become a central part of the GrooveBoston machine.
Are there any other iOS apps you use or are considering using in your live performances?
We’ve been playing with Serato Remote recently. It’s a sleek and simple solution for more traditional DJ setups, but we really like to dive into the nitty gritty programming elements with MIDI Designer. It’s nice that they added beat controls with the internal effects of Serato, but we’re so happy with the RMX and DJM effects that it mainly serves as a nice idea generator for what we’d like to create next in our custom MIDI Designer world.
MIDI Designer Pro on the
MIDI Designer Lite on the